Catholic’s Crusaders Double-up Gilmer

DAVISVILLE – A curse is beginning to evolve at Marshall Field for Gilmer County baseball.

For the second straight year in the regional semifinals, Parkersburg Catholic received an impressive outing from its starting pitching and defeated the second-ranked Titans 4-2.

In the past two years against PCHS at this stage of the postseason, Gilmer County has managed just two runs.

Next for 10th-ranked PCHS (20-12) in the Class A, Region IV finals is Charleston Catholic, a 6-2 winner over Wahama. Game time is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday back at Marshall Field.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” PCHS coach Tom Harvey said. “It’s been a long time trying to build a program and get players to commit to what we’re teaching. They have and here we are again; we have one shot.”

The Crusaders will in all likelihood give pitcher Andrew Cinalli a day off after the sophomore scattered five singles, walked two and struck out two in six innings of work. Teammate Mitch Davis made the outcome interesting in his one inning of relief after hitting one batter and allowing a single to another as the Titans put the tying run on base before the right-handed hurler recorded a strikeout to clinch the victory.

Cinalli wasn’t a complete surprise pick to start since he had the best record (7-2) on the pitching staff.

“I thought Mitch would get the call,” Cinalli said. “I had something left in me (for the seventh inning). I was so fired up and I wanted to pitch it, but Mitch came in and got the three outs.”

Gilmer County had their opportunities but couldn’t provide the clutch hit while leaving 10 runners stranded for the game.

“We had poor bats in (clutch situations),” Gilmer County Joe Frashure said after his ballclub ended the campaign at 28-5. “Even though we only start two seniors, we have six juniors and they’ve been in those situations before.”

PCHS score all the runs it needed in the first two innings. Mitch Davis led off the bottom of the first inning with a stand-up double. One out later and Davis now on third base, Jake Ullman walked.

Clean-up hitter Jake Boice appeared to hit into a double play after hitting a comebacker to pitcher Karl Bennington, but his throw to the fielder covering second base sailed into center field and Davis scored.

With two outs and runners at the corners, Nick Roedersheimer’s ground ball was booted by the shortstop and Ullman scored to put PCHS in front 2-0.

Bennington registered two of his 10 strikeouts to open the second inning, but Davis and Luther both singled to keep the inning from ending. Following a wild pitch, Ullman was intentionally walked. Boice stepped to the plate and hit a slow roller down the third base line. Not only did Boice beat out the throw for an infield single, but both Davis and Luther scored on the play for two RBIs.

From that point, Bennington hit another gear and retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced.

“We got to Bennington just enough to give us some breathing room,” Harvey said. “The guys relaxed when we got some runs.”

The lone run charged against Cinalli turned out to be unearned when Gilmer County scored for the first time in the top of the fourth inning. A throwing error on an infield single by Colton Rose allowed Nathan Allison to score all the way from second base.

Gilmer County’s only other run was charged to Davis. With two outs in the seventh inning, Allison singled home Austin Ratliff. With Adam Beall now on second and Allison at first, Davis struck out the next batter he faced for the third and final out.

“The difference in the game: when we had to make the play to keep them from scoring, we didn’t,” Frashure said. “When they had to make the play to keep us from scoring, they did.”